Challenging and being challenged: Westerners’ encounter with the Indian culture

Historically India attracted a lot of Western attention due to its different and complex culture, its spiritual philosophy and rich natural resources. Obviously, this attraction had both positive and negative effects. However, during the many centuries of colonization the country tried to safeguard its unique cultures and value systems. Nowadays, India as a country with a booming economy and a relatively stable democratic system looks even more promising to the West. All this explains the growing stream of foreign tourists, business people and researchers.

Text by Elena Groznaya Pranjali Bandhu


Challenging and being challenged: Westerners’ encounter with the Indian culture

When we talk about Indian culture we keep in mind the tremendous and unparalleled diversity of peoples and cultures within this subcontinent. India is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. However, within the great diversity of the country there is also unity: there are many aspects which most people have in common. This unity is civilizational rather than national in character, and it is largely based on the values of the Hindu religion and social organization.

Elements of culture shock

When a foreigner, particularly a Westerner, who is accustomed to a more homogenous, industrial, ‘national’ culture, comes to India the unique, contradictory, in many ways paradoxical, and colourful diversity is probably one of the first things that he becomes aware of – and finds or does not find attractive. Most Indians come across as friendly, hospitable and ...